The Fellowship of the Ring icon

The Fellowship of the Ring



НазваниеThe Fellowship of the Ring
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Дата конвертации19.09.2012
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“I couldn’t stay to hear more, sir, since you were waiting; and I didn’t give much heed to it myself. The Gaffer is getting old, and more than a bit blind, and it must have been near dark when this fellow come up the Hill and found him taking the air at the end of our Row. I hope he hasn’t done no harm, sir, nor me.”

“The Gaffer can’t be blamed anyway,” said Frodo. “As a matter of fact I heard him talking to a stranger, who seemed to be inquiring for me, and I nearly went and asked him who it was. I wish I had, or you had told me about it before. I might have been more careful on the road.”

“Still, there may be no connexion between this rider and the Gaffer’s stranger,” said Pippin. “We left Hobbiton secretly enough, and I don’t see how he could have followed us.”

“What about the smelling, sir?” said Sam. “And the Gaffer said he was a black chap.”

“I wish I had waited for Gandalf,” Frodo muttered. “But perhaps it would only have made matters worse.”

“Then you know or guess something about this rider?” said Pippin, who had caught the muttered words.

“I don’t know, and I would rather not guess,” said Frodo. “All right, cousin Frodo! You can keep your secret for the present, if you want to be mysterious. In the meanwhile what are we to do? I should like a bite and a sup, but somehow I think we had better move on from here. Your talk of sniffing riders with invisible noses has unsettled me.”

“Yes, I think we will move on now,” said Frodo; “but not on the road -in case that rider comes back, or another follows him. We ought to do a good step more today. Buckland is still miles away.”

The shadows of the trees were long and thin on the grass, as they started off again. They now kept a stone’s throw to the left of the road, and kept out of sight of it as much as they could. But this hindered them; for the grass was thick and tussocky, and the ground uneven, and the trees began to draw together into thickets.

The sun had gone down red behind the hills at their backs, and evening was coming on before they came back to the road at the end of the long level over which it had run straight for some miles. At that point it bent left and went down into the lowlands of the Yale making for Stock; but a lane branched right, winding through a wood of ancient oak-trees on its way to Woodhall. “That is the way for us,” said Frodo.

Not far from the road-meeting they came on the huge hulk of a tree: it was still alive and had leaves on the small branches that it had put out round the broken stumps of its long-fallen limbs; but it was hollow, and could be entered by a great crack on the side away from the road. The hobbits crept inside, and sat there upon a floor of old leaves and decayed wood. They rested and had a light meal, talking quietly and listening from time to time.

Twilight was about them as they crept back to the lane. The West wind was sighing in the branches. Leaves were whispering. Soon the road began to fall gently but steadily into the dusk. A star came out above the trees in the darkening East before them. They went abreast and in step, to keep up their spirits. After a time, as the stars grew thicker and brighter, the feeling of disquiet left them, and they no longer listened for the sound of hoofs. They began to hum softly, as hobbits have a way of doing as they walk along, especially when they are drawing near to home at night. With most hobbits it is a supper-song or a bed-song; but these hobbits hummed a walking-song (though not, of course, without any mention of supper and bed). Bilbo Baggins had made the words, to a tune that was as old as the hills, and taught it to Frodo as they walked in the lanes of the Water-valley and talked about Adventure.


Upon the hearth the fire is red,
Beneath the roof there is a bed;
But not yet weary are our feet,
Still round the corner we may meet
A sudden tree or standing stone
That none have seen but we alone.
Tree and flower and leaf and grass,
Let them pass! Let them pass!
Hill and water under sky,
Pass them by! Pass them by!

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,
And though we pass them by today,
Tomorrow we may come this way
And take the hidden paths that run
Towards the Moon or to the Sun.
Apple, thorn, and nut and sloe,
Let them go! Let them go!
Sand and stone and pool and dell,
Fare you well! Fare you well!

Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Then world behind and home ahead,
We’ll wander back to home and bed.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade!
Fire and lamp, and meat and bread,
And then to bed! And then to bed!


The song ended. “And now to bed! And now to bed!” sang Pippin in a high voice.

“Hush!” said Frodo. “I think I hear hoofs again.”

They slopped suddenly and stood as silent as tree-shadows, listening. There was a sound of hoofs in the lane, some way behind, but coming slow and clear down the wind. Quickly and quietly they slipped off the path, and ran into the deeper shade under the oak-trees.

“Don’t let us go too far!” said Frodo. “I don’t want to be seen, but I want to see if it is another Black Rider.”

“Very well!” said Pippin. “But don’t forget the sniffing!”

The hoofs drew nearer. They had no time to find any hiding-place better than the general darkness under the trees; Sam and Pippin crouched behind a large tree-bole, while Frodo crept back a few yards towards the lane. It showed grey and pale, a line of fading light through the wood. Above it the stars were thick in the dim sky, but there was no moon.

The sound of hoofs stopped. As Frodo watched he saw something dark pass across the lighter space between two trees, and then halt. It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow. The black shadow stood close to the point where they had left the path, and it swayed from side to side. Frodo thought he heard the sound of snuffling. The shadow bent to the ground, and then began to crawl towards him.

Once more the desire to slip on the Ring came over Frodo; but this time it was stronger than before. So strong that, almost before he realized what he was doing, his hand was groping in his pocket. But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter. Clear voices rose and fell in the starlit air. The black shadow straightened up and retreated. It climbed on to the shadowy horse and seemed to vanish across the lane into the darkness on the other side. Frodo breathed again.

“Elves!” exclaimed Sam in a hoarse whisper. “Elves, sir!” He would have burst out of the trees and dashed off towards the voices, if they had not pulled him back.

“Yes, it is Elves,” said Frodo. “One can meet them sometimes in the Woody End. They don’t live in the Shire, but they wander into it in Spring and Autumn, out of their own lands away beyond the Tower Hills. I am thankful that they do! You did not see, but that Black Rider stopped just here and was actually crawling towards us when the song began. As soon as he heard the voices he slipped away.”

“What about the Elves?” said Sam, too excited to trouble about the rider. “Can’t we go and see them?”

“Listen! They are coming this way,” said Frodo. “We have only to wait.” The singing drew nearer. One clear voice rose now above the others. It was singing in the fair elven-tongue, of which Frodo knew only a little, and the others knew nothing. Yet the sound blending with the melody seemed to shape itself in their thought into words which they only partly understood. This was the song as Frodo heard it:


Snow-white! Snow-white! O Lady clear!
O Queen beyond the Western Seas!
O Light to us that wander here
Amid the world of woven trees!

Gilthoniel! O Elbereth!
Clear are thy eyes and bright thy breath!
Snow-white! Snow-white! We sing to thee
In a far land beyond the Sea.

O stars that in the Sunless Year
With shining hand by her were sawn,
In windy fields now bright and clear
We see your silver blossom blown!

O Elbereth! Gilthoniel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.


The song ended. “These are High Elves! They spoke the name of Elbereth!” said Frodo in amazement, “Few of that fairest folk are ever seen in the Shire. Not many now remain in Middle-earth, east of the Great Sea. This is indeed a strange chance!”

The hobbits sat in shadow by the wayside. Before long the Elves came down the lane towards the valley. They passed slowly, and the hobbits could see the starlight glimmering on their hair and in their eyes. They bore no lights, yet as they walked a shimmer, like the light of the moon above the rim of the hills before it rises, seemed to fall about their feet. They were now silent, and as the last Elf passed he turned and looked towards the hobbits and laughed.

“Hail, Frodo!” he cried. “You are abroad late. Or are you perhaps lost?” Then he called aloud to the others, and all the company stopped and gathered round.

“This is indeed wonderful!” they said. “Three hobbits in a wood at night! We have not seen such a thing since Bilbo went away. What is the meaning of it?”

“The meaning of it, fair people,” said Frodo, “is simply that we seem to be going the same way as you are. I like walking under the stars. But I would welcome your company.”

“But we have no need of other company, and hobbits are so dull,” they laughed. “And how do you know that we go the same way as you, for you do not know whither we are going?”

“And how do you know my name?” asked Frodo in return.

“We know many things,” they said. “We have seen you often before with Bilbo, though you may not have seen us.”

“Who are you, and who is your lord?” asked Frodo.

“I am Gildor,” answered their leader, the Elf who had first hailed him. “Gildor Inglorion of the House of Finrod. We are Exiles, and most of our kindred have long ago departed and we too are now only tarrying here a while, ere we return over the Great Sea. But some of our kinsfolk dwell still in peace in Rivendell. Come now, Frodo, tell us what you are doing? For we see that there is some shadow of fear upon you.”

“O Wise People!” interrupted Pippin eagerly. “Tell us about the Black Riders!”

“Black Riders?” they said in low voices. “Why do you ask about Black Riders?”

“Because two Black Riders have overtaken us today, or one has done so twice,” said Pippin; “only a little while ago he slipped away as you drew near.”

The Elves did not answer at once, but spoke together softly in their own tongue. At length Gildor turned to the hobbits. “We will not speak of this here,” he said. “We think you had best come now with us. It is not our custom, but for this time we will lake you on our road, and you shall lodge with us tonight, if you will.”

“O Fair Folk! This is good fortune beyond my hope,” said Pippin. Sam was speechless. “I thank you indeed, Gildor Inglorion,” said Frodo bowing. “Elen síla lúmenn” omentielvo, a star shines on the hour of our meeting,” he added in the high-elven speech.

“Be careful, friends!” cried Gildor laughing. “Speak no secrets! Here is a scholar in the Ancient Tongue. Bilbo was a good master. Hail, Elf-friend!” he said, bowing to Frodo. “Come now with your friends and join our company! You had best walk in the middle so that you may not stray. You may be weary before we halt.”

“Why? Where are you going?” asked Frodo.

“For tonight we go to the woods on the hills above Woodhall. It is some miles, but you shall have rest at the end of it, and it will shorten your journey tomorrow.”

They now marched on again in silence, and passed like shadows and faint lights: for Elves (even more than hobbits) could walk when they wished without sound or footfall. Pippin soon began to feel sleepy, and staggered once or twice; but each time a tall Elf at his side put out his arm and saved him from a fall. Sam walked along at Frodo’s side, as if in a dream, with an expression on his face half of fear and half of astonished joy.

The woods on either side became denser; the trees were now younger and thicker; and as the lane went lower, running down into a fold of the hills, there were many deep brakes of hazel on the rising slopes at either hand. At last the Elves turned aside from the path. A green ride lay almost unseen through the thickets on the right; and this they followed as it wound away back up the wooded slopes on to the top of a shoulder of the hills that stood out into the lower land of the river-valley. Suddenly they came out of the shadow of the trees, and before them lay a wide space of grass, grey under the night. On three sides the woods pressed upon it; but eastward the ground fell steeply and the tops of the dark trees, growing at the bottom of the slope, were below their feet. Beyond, the low lands lay dim and flat under the stars. Nearer at hand a few lights twinkled in the village of Woodhall.

The Elves sat on the grass and spoke together in soft voices; they seemed to take no further notice of the hobbits. Frodo and his companions wrapped themselves in cloaks and blankets, and drowsiness stole over them. The night grew on, and the lights in the valley went out. Pippin fell asleep, pillowed on a green hillock.

Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. The Elves all burst into song. Suddenly under the trees a fire sprang up with a red light.

“Come!” the Elves called to the hobbits. “Come! Now is the time for speech and merriment!”

Pippin sat up and rubbed his eyes. He shivered. “There is a fire in the hall, and food for hungry guests,” said an Elf standing before him.

At the south end of the greensward there was an opening. There the green floor ran on into the wood, and formed a wide space like a hall, roofed by the boughs of trees. Their great trunks ran like pillars down each side. In the middle there was a wood-fire blazing, and upon the tree-pillars torches with lights of gold and silver were burning steadily. The Elves sat round the fire upon the grass or upon the sawn rings of old trunks. Some went to and fro bearing cups and pouring drink; others brought food on heaped plates and dishes.

“This is poor fare,” they said to the hobbits; “for we are lodging in the greenwood far from our halls. If ever you are our guests at home, we will treat you better.”

“It seems to me good enough for a birthday-party,” said Frodo.

Pippin afterwards recalled little of either food or drink, for his mind was filled with the light upon the elf-faces, and the sound of voices so various and so beautiful that he felt in a waking dream. But he remembered that there was bread, surpassing the savour of a fair white loaf to one who is starving; and fruits sweet as wildberries and richer than the tended fruits of gardens; he drained a cup that was filled with a fragrant draught, cool as a clear fountain, golden as a summer afternoon.

Sam could never describe in words, nor picture clearly to himself, what he felt or thought that night, though it remained in his memory as one of the chief events of his life. The nearest he ever got was to say: “Well, sir, if I could grow apples like that, I would call myself a gardener. But it was the singing that went to my heart, if you know what I mean.”

Frodo sat, eating, drinking, and talking with delight; but his mind was chiefly on the words spoken. He knew a little of the elf-speech and listened eagerly. Now and again he spoke to those that served him and thanked them in their own language. They smiled at him and said laughing: “Here is a jewel among hobbits!”

After a while Pippin fell fast asleep, and was lifted up and borne away to a bower under the trees; there he was laid upon a soft bed and slept the rest of the night away. Sam refused to leave his master. When Pippin had gone, he came and sat curled up at Frodo’s feet, where at last he nodded and closed his eyes. Frodo remained long awake, talking with Gildor.

They spoke of many things, old and new, and Frodo questioned Gildor much about happenings in the wide world outside the Shire. The tidings were mostly sad and ominous: of gathering darkness, the wars of Men, and the flight of the Elves. At last Frodo asked the question that was nearest to his heart:

“Tell me, Gildor, have you ever seen Bilbo since he left us?”

Gildor smiled. “Yes,” he answered. “Twice. He said farewell to us on this very spot. But I saw him once again, far from here.” He would say no more about Bilbo, and Frodo fell silent.

“You do not ask me or tell me much that concerns yourself, Frodo,” said Gildor. “But I already know a little, and I can read more in your face and in the thought behind your questions. You are leaving the Shire, and yet you doubt that you will find what you seek, or accomplish what you intend, or that you will ever return. Is not that so?”

“It is,” said Frodo; “but I thought my going was a secret known only to Gandalf and my faithful Sam.” He looked down at Sam, who was snoring gently.

“The secret will not reach the Enemy from us,” said Gildor.

“The Enemy?” said Frodo. “Then you know why I am leaving the Shire?”

“I do not know for what reason the Enemy is pursuing you,” answered Gildor; “but I perceive that he is—strange indeed though that seems to me. And I warn you that peril is now both before you and behind you, and upon either side.”

“You mean the Riders? I feared that they were servants of the Enemy. What are the Black Riders?”

“Has Gandalf told you nothing?”

“Nothing about such creatures.”

“Then I think it is not for me to say more—lest terror should keep you from your journey. For it seems to me that you have set out only just in time, if indeed you are in time. You must now make haste, and neither stay nor turn back; for the Shire is no longer any protection to you.”

“I cannot imagine what information could be more terrifying than your hints and warnings,” exclaimed Frodo. “I knew that danger lay ahead, of course; but I did not expect to meet it in our own Shire. Can’t a hobbit walk from the Water to the River in peace?”

“But it is not your own Shire,” said Gildor. “Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.”

“I know—and yet it has always seemed so safe and familiar. What can I do now? My plan was to leave the Shire secretly, and make my way to Rivendell; but now my footsteps are dogged, before ever I get to Buckland.”

“I think you should still follow that plan,” said Gildor. “I do not think the Road will prove too hard for your courage. But if you desire clearer counsel, you should ask Gandalf. I do not know the reason for your flight, and therefore I do not know by what means your pursuers will assail you. These things Gandalf must know. I suppose that you will see him before you leave the Shire?”

“I hope so. But that is another thing that makes me anxious. I have been expecting Gandalf for many days. He was to have come to Hobbiton at the latest two nights ago; but he has never appeared. Now I am wondering what can have happened. Should I wait for him?”

Gildor was silent for a moment. “I do not like this news,” he said at last. “That Gandalf should be late, does not bode well. But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait.”

“And it is also said,” answered Frodo: “Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.”

“Is it indeed?” laughed Gildor. “Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; and how then shall I choose better than you? But if you demand advice, I will for friendship’s sake give it. I think you should now go at once, without delay; and if Gandalf does not come before you set out, then I also advise this: do not go alone. Take such friends as are trusty and willing. Now you should be grateful, for I do not give this counsel gladly. The Elves have their own labours and their own sorrows, and they are little concerned with the ways of hobbits, or of any other creatures upon earth. Our paths cross theirs seldom, by chance or purpose. In this meeting there may be more than chance; but the purpose is not clear to me, and I fear to say too much.”

“I am deeply grateful,” said Frodo; “but I wish you would tell me plainly what the Black Riders are. If I take your advice I may not see Gandalf for a long while, and I ought to know what is the danger that pursues me.”

“Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?” answered Gildor. “Flee them! Speak no words to them! They are deadly. Ask no more of me! But my heart forbodes that, ere all is ended, you, Frodo son of Drogo, will know more of these fell things than Gildor Inglorion. May Elbereth protect you!”

“But where shall I find courage?” asked Frodo. “That is what I chiefly need.”
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